GOP's Sarah Palin casts mother's role in national spotlight

By: Stephanie Jantzen
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Warning: this column will be of a political nature. Yes, but it also completely pertains to us – the moms of the children of our communities. We have a woman and a mother running for Vice President of the United States. It is a historic event, as much as it is that we have an African-American running for President. This will be an incredible election in the history of our union. I have a dear friend who I spoke with after Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gave her speech before the Republican National Committee Convention. She watched it through the eyes of a political junkie. She also watched it as a mother. She phoned me and told me that while Palin’s speech was strong, she felt “worried” about her, and I asked why. She said that she looked at Palin’s teenage daughter up on stage, as well as Palin’s baby with Down syndrome. My friend said that she was worried that Palin was pursuing the vice presidency with a family who obviously needed her. I understood her reaction, and in some ways agreed. Then I said that most people who are moved to action, are so moved as a result of personal experience. Candy Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, was moved to create this organization after a repeat drunk driver killed her daughter in 1980. Lance Armstrong, who won the Tour de France seven times, was diagnosed with cancer in 1996 and was moved to create the Lance Armstrong Foundation (Livestrong), which supports people afflicted with cancer. We all recognize the yellow silicone bracelet with “Livestrong” embedded in the material. Perhaps Sarah Palin will do great things in the White House, if elected with Sen. John McCain. Maybe her calling will indeed be the great advocate for special needs children and their families. What if she tackles the issue of teen pregnancy with a new vigor and new creativity? Could it be that because of her own families’ challenges she will do great things for many that up to now haven’t had the representation? I don’t know. We may never know – it certainly all depends upon who wins the presidential race. I do know, however, that we all see the world through our own eyes. We feel passionate about some things, bored with others. We are all moved to action for different reasons. And, we all stay home and do nothing for others. I don’t know if Palin is someone to be “worried” about because her political career is her priority, or if she is so passionate about so many issues that she is determined to create change where change is needed, and even advocate on behalf of a whole universe of people who would welcome the attention. Palin has provoked many discussions, much speculation, and yes, much criticism. Welcome to politics. What moves you? What group or organization could benefit from your talents and passions? And if the beginning and end for you is indeed your family, then go forth, give hugs, and be the best, most passionate mom you can. Stephanie Jantzen is a resident of El Dorado Hills, a former resident of Folsom, a mother of two preschool-age children and wife of a great husband. She may be contacted by e-mail at